Back to the assignment for this week. To bless or not to bless: that is the question. Just kidding. I'd like to send a huge bless over Jaci's way for her Entry #7 (See her entry here!).
One of the things that we have been talking about a lot in my 600 class is how to motivate students and provide them with a real purpose and a real audience. When students don’t have the opportunity to write to real people, and they are forced to use their classmates and teacher as the identified “audience,” writing becomes old very quickly. Honestly, I couldn’t argue with that if I tried. I remember how boring it was, growing up, and only being able to write essays for my teacher. I wanted to write letters to other people. I wanted to write poems from different perspectives for different audiences. Unfortunately, the set-up of most schools requires students to complete unrealistic writing assignments where they discuss a “life-changing event,” for example. The aforementioned topic was actually a requirement for my sixth graders during student teaching. I remember laughing when I read the assignment because I couldn’t even think of a life-changing event for myself at the age of eleven. How on earth could these kids be expected to follow suit? A few of them started writing furiously, one wrote about his uncle killing a man (obviously life-changing), and the other, confused, wrote about how she played outside with her dog the day before. I felt awful that this was the kind of writing assignment they were required to complete. Most of my students sat there for most of the writing period and slapped something on the page with ten minutes left. I can’t agree more with Jaci when she says, “Why would a child want to write about something they really don’t care about when I am going to be the only person reading it?” My students could not identify with the writing prompt, nor did they find it interesting that I was going to read them and grade them. There was no awesome outcome for their writing. Of course these are the same students who hate reading and writing as they get older; it’s because we force them to hate it! I must be an anomaly for going through similar writing assignments and actually choosing to get a second major in English. (Although, I have always been a little nutty with books.)
I also agree with what Jaci says about teachers being afraid to use technology. I am reminded of my student teaching placement at Hope Hall. My teacher was one of the few who still had an overhead projector. I was shocked when I walked into the classroom and did not see a SMARTboard. How on earth was I going to teach on a chalkboard? I felt strange. I remember bringing in my laptop for a few activities with the kids. In small groups, we watched videos and listened to songs that helped them understand topics. My teacher had absolutely no idea why I was doing any of those things. She was content to teach with overhead sleeves and chalk. My undergraduate classes at Naz have taught me so many great things about technology. I know how to use SMARTboards and document cameras and many other things. My teacher, although young, was too afraid to try any of it. She was not interested in taking risks in the classroom. Jaci commented in her entry that, “It truly is amazing how much is out there for educators to incorporate into their classrooms.” I completely agree. One of the things that kind of stinks is that some teachers see this as a scary concept. The fact that there are so many different ways to include technology into the classroom seems an impossible feat for someone who does not understand technology. When I consider all of the technological advances for the classroom that we have learned about this semester, I can say that it is overwhelming. However, when I also consider the fact that not all of these things need to be used at once, it does not appear to be a daunting task. We have learned that some teachers simply start with a blog. I think that this is a great way to start incorporating technology in the classroom. Adding one piece of technology a year, or even more, will help to balance students into this world as it changes what being literate means.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Jaci’s post about technology and the issues with purpose and audience. I hope that someday, both of these struggles with be water under the bridge in the grand scheme of education.
I mean, a girl can dream, can’t she?